The start of the long holiday weekend was fittingly marked with very little news and plenty of sentiment. The Story of the Day was not dictated by how the networks led off their newscasts but by how they closed them. All three ended with features about volunteers supplying Christmas cheer to the needy.

On NBC's Making a Difference, Kevin Tibbles brought us Larry Stewart, a self-styled Secret Santa who has handed out $100 bills to strangers in Missouri for 26 years--a total of $1m over that span. ABC's Persons of the Week were Jake and Sparky Kennedy, who have thrown an annual Christmas in the City party for the past 18 years. Charles Gibson (subscription required) called it a "no-holds-barred, all-donated, all-volunteer holiday party for all of Boston's homeless children," 2,800 guests in all.

And on CBS' Assignment America Steve Hartman told us about Kansas City's Car Santa. Terry Franz is a former used-car dealer who found it was easier to give patch-up junkers away than to sell them. So now he bestows free automobiles on poor people in need of wheels. Hartman extended the gift by persuading his segment's sponsor, ExxonMobil, to pay off Franz' own car loan. By the way, CBS' Katie Couric mentioned in passing earlier in the newscast that ExxonMobil's court-ordered $5bn payment of damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska had been slashed in half on appeal.


Great story on the Car Santa. Hope to hear more about this Santa in the future. If more storys like this one were aired maybe we would get more people helping others.

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